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Excavations at the Late Epipalaeolithic site of Shubayqa 1: Preliminary report on the first season

Authors:
Editorial
Field Reports
Richter, Bode, House, Iversen, Arranz Otaegui,
Saehle, Thaarup, Tvede, Yeomans
Shubayqa 1
 
Monjukli Depe
Garazhian
Tapeh Baluch
 
‘Ain Ghazal
Contribution
Michiels, al-Souliman, Gebel
Ba‘ja LPPNB Sandstone Rings
New Publication/Masthead
NEO-LITHICS 2/12
The Newsletter of
Southwest Asian Neolithic Research
2Neo-Lithics 2/12
Contents
Editorial
Editorial 2
Field Reports
Tobias Richter, 

Excavations at the Late Epipalaeolithic Site of Shubayqa 1: Preliminary Report on the First Season 3
 
Renewed Excavations at Monjukli Depe, Turkmenistan 15
Omran Garazhian
Recent Excavations at Tapeh Baluch (Baluch Mound): a Neolithic Site in Neyshabur Plain, NE Iran 20
 
‘Ain Ghazal Revisited: Rescue Excavations October and December-January, 2011-2012 32
Contribution
Tristan Michiels, Amer Salah Abdo al-Souliman, and Hans Georg K. Gebel
Stage 3 Manufacturing Traces of the Ba‘ja LPPNB Sandstone Rings 41
New Publication 51
Masthead 52
The sky is falling, still. In his Introduction chapter of the 1998 book The Prehistoric Archaeology of Jordan, Don
Henry noted that the number of publications in all venues pertaining to all periods of Jordanian prehistory had
zoomed to an average of 14 per year between 1980-1986, noting that this was “a nearly four-fold increase … over the
whole decade of the 1970’s” (Henry 1998: 1). Over the past couple of decades the pace of research and publication
for the entire Levant has started to reach unmanageable proportions for authors attempting to make sense of newly
  

tagged with keywords, but how such an institution could be developed and maintained is a daunting problem.
Geneviève Dollfus of Paléorient has foreseen these needs; in recent years, she has laid the foundations for such a
data base, and we should think about supporting its implementation.
Gary O. Rollefson and Hans Georg K. Gebel
Henry D.
1998 The Prehistoric Archaeology of Jordan. BAR International Series 705. Oxford, Archaeopress.
Richter et al., Shubayqa 1
Neo-Lithics 2/12 3
Introduction
-
uated in the northern Badia region of eastern Jordan
 
1993 (Betts 1993; 1998: 25-26) followed by a brief ex-
cavation in 1996. This initial test excavation revealed
          in
situ deposits teeming with lithic artefacts and faunal
remains (Fig. 2). In October and November 2012 a
team from the University of Copenhagen returned to
Shubayqa 1 to carry out larger scale excavations as part
-
beika.ccrs.ku.dk/) and the Epipalaeolithic Foragers in

One of the key aims of the Shubayqa Archaeolog-

the Younger Dryas event (ca. 12,800-11,500 BP) and
cultural developments during the Late Epipalaeolithic
occupation in the semi-arid to arid ‘marginal zone’ in
the southern Levant. The cooler and drier conditions
that marked the beginning of the Younger Dryas have
     
     
zone’ into the marginal, more arid fringe (Bar-Yosef
1995; Bar-Yosef and Belfer-Cohen 2000, 2002; Bar-
       
Hillman 1992). At the same time, it has been suggested
      
groups into the cultivation of cereals to compensate

settlements (Hillman 1996; Hillman et al. 1989, 2001;

Fieldwork at Shubayqa 1 was conceptualized to test
these ideas through the examination of a seemingly well





Fig. 1 Topographic map of the Qa’ Shubayqa showing the locations of Shubayqa 1, 3 and 6.
Field Reports
Neo-Lithics 2/12
4
      
wider Shubayqa area aims to provide a more detailed
reconstruction of local environmental conditions during
the Younger Dryas to better understand the effects of
global climatic change on the local scale. Finally, Shu-
bayqa 1 offers an opportunity to provide other evidence
for the character of late Epipalaeolithic societies in the
Azraq Basin that are known from only two excavated
sites so far (Betts 1991, 1998; Garrard 1991).

focused primarily on Shubayqa 1, we also carried out a
brief reconnaissance survey of the surrounding area to
situate the site within its local landscape.
The Site
Shubayqa 1 is situated in the northwestern part of
the Jordanian Badia. It lies to the immediate north of
the Qa’ Shubayqa, a 12 km2 large dry lake fed by the
     
Wadis Salma, Ghaysan and al-Hamra al Shamali from
the east. The temporary lake that forms during the rain-
fall season in the Qa’ Shubayqa is a continuation of


       
Shubayqa is still an attractive grazing area for Bedouin
groups during the spring (according to local infor-
mants). It seems likely that the area may have been
a more stable or even permanent body of water under
more favourable climatic conditions. The availability
of water in the area under past environmental condi-
tions is an area of future research. Today the Shubayqa
area is situated at the edge of the Irano-Turanian vege-
tation zone which rings Jebel Druze. Average mean an-
nual rainfall is between 80-100 mm with most rainfall
occurring in the winter.
The site of Shubayqa 1 sits in the southwestern
corner of the abandoned Islamic village of Khirbet
Shubayqa. It lies at an elevation of 740 meters above
sea level and consists of a ca. 2000 m2 roughly circular
mound that rises 2.5-3 meters above the surrounding
area (Figs. 3 and 4). Basalt blocks of various sizes are
strewn across the surface and there are various historic
walls and structures associated with the mound. An
Islamic burial cairn was built on the summit of the
mound (local informants have told us that this is ca. 70

east-west terminus that partially encloses the burial
cairn was presumably constructed at the same time. To
the southwest and west lie two rectangular, collapsed
buildings, which probably form part of the main oc-
cupation phase of Khirbet Shubayqa. The surface of
the mound is littered with chipped stone artefacts and
small bone fragments. Six mortars – two double and
four single mortars – made on large basalt mortars are
the most obvious of a large number of ground stone
Fig. 2 
Richter et al., Shubayqa 1
Neo-Lithics 2/12 5
artefacts spread across the same area (Fig. 5). Traces
of possible buried, semi-circular walls can be seen on
the surface in various locations.
Area A
The initial aim of the excavation was to relocate and de-
lineate the 1996 excavation trench using archive photo-
graphs and observations on the ground. Using the pho-

laid out accordingly. The original trench had collapsed

a loose, soft deposit that contained abundant chipped
stone, ground stone and faunal remains. We considered

therefore removed it relatively swiftly to establish the
Fig. 3 
Fig. 4 View of the Shubayqa 1 site looking southwest. Fig. 5 One of the six surface ground stone mortars recorded at
Shubayqa 1.
Field Reports
Neo-Lithics 2/12
6
  
revealed features visible on the 1996 photographs: part
of a semi-circular wall constructed of basalt uprights

2 and 6a). Since the end of the 1996 excavation and
before the collapse of the trench, this pavement was
partially disturbed. At least one large pavement stone
had been pulled up and moved aside and remained at
an inclined angle at the bottom of the trench (Fig. 6a
bottom left).
Having delineated the 1996 limit of excavation
the next task was to expand Area A to further reveal
the remains of the semi-circular structure. This neces-
sitated the removal of large quantities of loose basalt
boulders to the east of the 1996 excavation trench, not
only to allow for the continuation of excavation, but
also to prevent them from collapsing into the deeper,
old trench. Following the removal of these blocks
       
      
L26-27. It was however unclear whether this repre-

alignment of stones, given that the area exposed was
quite small. Recording and removal of this structure
allowed further excavation of in situ deposits. These
consisted of a series of dark grayish brown deposits
that contained abundant chipped stone, faunal remains
and ground stone, as well as other items of material
culture. Further excavations revealed the top of the
return wall of the already partially exposed structure,

a semi-circular building. This structure measures 4 m
in diameter with walls constructed of upright-standing
basalt stones (Fig. 6b).
A circular, stone-lined pit of as yet unknown func-
tion was exposed at the northern limit of excavation
    
burnt stones at the top and abundant charred plant re-
mains in an ash-rich sedimentary matrix throughout.
The circular stone lining was rebuilt at least once in the
same position, suggesting continuity of function. This
would seem to rule out accidental burning of a storage
pit, suggesting instead that burning was an integral part
of the feature’s function. While the feature could be a
hearth, it is also possible that it may have been used
as a roasting pit. Further work on the archaeobotanical
material should provide us with a better idea of this
feature’s function.
Excavations in Area A concluded ca. 30 cm above

This will be the focus of renewed excavations in the
next season.
Area B
This area was opened up to the north of Area A, sepa-
rated from it by a 1 m wide baulk (Fig. 3). It initially
measured 4 x 3 m and targeted in situ archaeological
deposits. Surface artefacts, in particular chipped and
ground stone, were encountered in large numbers
already on the surface and in the topsoil. They were
closely associated with three boulder-mortars situated
-
timeters of topsoil contained occasional pieces of early
Islamic ceramics, as well as some isolated early and late
       
assemblage however had a distinct late Epipalaeolithic
character. Chipped and ground stone artefacts, as well as
animal bones, continued to be recovered in abundance
as the area was further reduced. Beneath two midden
deposits, 50 cm below modern surface, excavations re-

prompted the expansion of the excavation area by two
meters to the east, enlarging the total area to 6 x 3 m.
Eventually the stone pavement was exposed across the
entire eastern half of the area (covering squares J-L 22-

One mortar and several grinding stones were incor-
porated into the pavement. A hearth was also exposed
in K22 (Fig. 7d). Strewn across the pavement were
numerous smaller ground stone artefacts and several
pavement stones and worked ground stones showed
traces of ochre pigment. In addition, three disarticu-

were the highly fragmented and isolated remains of an
adult individual consisting of a fragmented upper seg-
ment of cranium, part of one clavicle and two broken
parts of an ulna and radius, as well as other not yet

excavation area the disarticulated remains of one infant
and one adult were found concentrated in one area.
A medium sized basalt slab had either been placed or
dropped on top of these individuals. The infant remains
      
and teeth buds. The remains of the adult consist of skull
fragments. Towards the end of the excavation season
the articulated remains of another infant were found
after cleaning the south section of the baulk between
Area A and B (Fig. 7b). This necessitated the cutting
back of the section to fully expose and recover these
remains. The dentition suggests that these are the re-
mains of a less than 6 month old infant, which lay on its
right side in a crouched position. A lump of ochre was
found in close association with the left hand. For an in-
fant burial it appeared very well preserved with cranial
fragments, ribs, vertebrae and most upper and lower
limb elements present. The burial was found beneath

were lifted at times and burials placed beneath them.
Indeed, this burial was cut into an earlier infant burial,
which we were unable to excavate this season due to
time constraints.
Area C
The presence of a suspected semi-circular wall visible
on the surface in the northern part of the site prompted
the opening of a small sondage here to investigate the
full extent of the site. Excavations revealed a 50 cm
deep sequence of deposits and showed that the align-
Richter et al., Shubayqa 1
Neo-Lithics 2/12 7
Fig. 6 
Field Reports
Neo-Lithics 2/12
8
Fig. 7 
 
Richter et al., Shubayqa 1
Neo-Lithics 2/12 9
ment of stones observed on the surface is indeed part of

of the sondage a compact earthen surface was ex-
posed. This was covered by a soft brown silt (possibly

    
contained dense concentrations of charcoal. Chipped
stone artefacts suggest that this area also forms part
    
compacted occupation deposits were situated above
this midden deposit. Excavations in Area C showed
that archaeological deposits and features are present
in this area, warranting further investigations in this
northern part of the site. The sondage also showed that
Shubayqa 1 is considerably larger and potentially more
complex than hitherto assumed, with occupation depo-
sits and architecture extending this far to the north.

A wide range of material culture, fauna and botanical
remains were recovered from the excavations (Fig. 9).
 -
rity of the remains. The raw material used for chipping
-

that are commonly found in the limestone areas of the
Azraq Basin further south. There are also some red and
pinkish varieties, which are known from sources to the
south, southwest and west. A somewhat rarer category
     
        
chalcedony, sources of which exist to the east of the
Azraq Oasis (Betts 1998: 34). No obsidian was found.
The chipped stone appears to be a predominantly
      
      
  
be very common. Cores are very small and exhibit
signs of extensive reduction. Bladelet cores appear
to be rare. Burins and splintered pieces are common
and can be miniature-sized. Primary pieces of debi-
tage are very rare and there are few crested blades or
other initial core preparation pieces that would suggest
blade or bladelet production. Retouched artefacts in-
clude scrapers, backed bladelets, truncations, notches

expected, geometric microliths are common and are
dominated by lunates. Lunates are generally short –
even very short – and are backed using abrupt, bipolar
and Helwan retouch. The smallest variety of lunates
appear to be usually backed using bipolar or abrupt
retouch, but not Helwan. The lunates suggest a late

chipped stone assemblage appears to be comparable
to the Khallat ‘Anaza material (Betts 1998: 16-19),
  
and bladelets were equally represented, and the toolkit
was dominated by Helwan and abruptly / bipolar ba-
Fig. 8 
Field Reports
Neo-Lithics 2/12
10
cked, short lunates. The main difference appears to
        
cores, splintered pieces and burins. Two key factors
contributed to the character of the Shubayqa 1 assemb-
lage. One is the distance between the site to the nearest

Shubayqa 1 is located between 70-90 km to the south
and southwest, while chalcedony can be found east
of Azraq, 80 km south of Shubayqa. Transporting
material over these considerable distances to the Qa’
Shubayqa clearly affected the size and amounts of ma-
terial that people were able to transport and resulted
in maximal reuse of any available raw material. The
  -
semblage was settlement pattern. With architecture,
burials and heavy-duty ground stone tools (see below)
Shubayqa 1 appears to have been occupied intensively
and for prolonged periods. The prolonged occupation
of this one locality, coupled with the scarcity of locally
       
of exploiting whatever raw material was at hand. The
Shubayqa 1 raw material economy therefore appears
to be an interesting aspect that requires further careful
investigation.
Ground stone was found in abundance at Shu-
bayqa 1. In addition to seven basalt-boulder mortars
the excavations recovered more than 300 individual
pieces of worked basalt. The mortars, six of which
were found on the surface, consist of two double mor-

ground stone assemblage consists of grinding slabs,
slabs with cupholes, numerous vessel fragments,
pestles, handstones, pounders, one grooved stone and
various fragments and miscellaneous pieces (Fig. 9:
Fig. 9 


Richter et al., Shubayqa 1
Neo-Lithics 2/12 11
  

 
1-4, 12-15). All the ground stone was made using ba-
salt, which is hardly surprising given its abundance
in the local environment. Instances of ochre staining
were observed on some pieces, suggesting that some
were used to process pigments. Similar to other sites it
is likely that the ground stone was employed in many
different tasks, ranging from hide working and mineral
grinding to processing plant foods (Dubreuil 2004).
Further, more intensive study of the assemblage is ne-
cessary to investigate the frequency of different uses.
     -
cluding stone rings (made from both basalt and limes-
 
11-15). The latter include one polished pebble incised
with two crossed lines and a hammerstone with a
       
include a number of beads made from stone, bone
and marine shell. All the shell beads recovered to date
were made from dentalium shells, indicating that the
site was linked into long-distance exchange networks.
A small number of bone tools were also recovered.
These include several points (Fig. 9: 5-10), as well as
an incised piece of bone, possibly the fragment of a
handle (Fig. 9: 10).
Faunal preservation is generally good and the as-
semblage is considerable in size, especially in com-
parison to other late Epipalaeolithic sites in the Azraq
Basin. It consists of many small, highly fragmented
pieces, suggesting intensive carcass processing for
       
include gazelle, caprines and small equids, hare, fox,
tortoise and a wide range of birds. Gazelle is parti-
cularly abundant and dominates the assemblage. The
presence of caprines is intriguing, as these have rarely
Field Reports
Neo-Lithics 2/12
12
been documented in such early assemblages in eastern
Jordan, having previously been thought to be intro-
duced as domestic livestock during the early Neolithic
(Garrard et al. 1996).
Charred plant remains were recovered from mul-
tiple contexts at the site. By far the densest concent-
ration was found in the circular stone-lined feature in
       
amounts. Both seeds and charred wood were found.
The former include wild barley (Hordeum spon-
taneum) and sedges (Cyperaceae), while the latter
include tamarisk (Tamarix sp.), Chenopodiaceae and
ash (Fraxinus sp.). This assemblage, which is cur-
    

eastern Jordan. It promises outstanding insights into
the palaeoenvironment and plant economy of the Late
Epipalaeolithic in the Badia and beyond.

In addition to excavations we carried out a brief re-
connaissance survey in the area surrounding the site.
This focused in particular on the early Islamic village
of Khirbet Shubayqa. The preliminary results of the
village survey will be reported elsewhere (Richter and

attention to two additional prehistoric sites visited du-
ring the reconnaissance work.

at the southeastern edge of the Qa’ Shubayqa over-
         

relocated this site during this season and carried out a
brief surface collection. Shubayqa 3 consists of a sur-
face scatter of chipped stone artefacts, faunal remains,
and ground stone artefacts that spreads over an area
of 5000-6000 m2. To the west the site is delineated
by later enclosures and two burial cairns (of which
one was robbed recently) while the lithic scatter pe-
ters out gradually in all other directions. The site is
slightly disturbed by modern tracks to the north, south
and east. One possible circular structure was noted
during the walkover. Surface material was collected
from a single north-south transect, 80 meters long and
2 m wide. This resulted in a collection of 395 chipped
stone artefacts (see Table 1, Fig. 10). Ground stone
artefacts were also ubiquitous on the surface but were
not collected at this stage. Although bladelets were


were present. Betts (1998) suggested that the site was

surface collection. The 2012 surface collection pro-
duced a number of long and wide Helwan lunates (Fig.

for the occupation.
As part of the survey of Khirbet Shubayqa we
also located a hitherto unknown prehistoric site. It is
situated at the southeastern corner of the abandoned
early Islamic village on a low mound at the edge of
the Qa’ Shubayqa, ca. 1 km east of Shubayqa 1. It is
comparable in size and appearance to Shubayqa 1. A
rectangular building, probably dating to the early Is-
lamic occupation, and a burial cairn were built on top
of the mound. Chipped stone artefacts spread across an
area of ca. 2000 m2. In places it seems to be retained
by a semi-circular stone alignment, which could repre-
sent part of a buried structure. Although one grinding
stone was seen lying ca. 50 m to the west of the site,
there was no ground stone visible on the surface of the
mound itself. A surface collection at the site yielded
244 pieces of chipped stone (Table 2, Fig. 10) and 6
fragments of greenstone. The collection contained a
      
only few cores were found. Amongst the retouched
pieces was one broken el-Khiam point (Fig. 10: 18)
Cores 3 1,22%
Chips & Chunks 31 
Debitage 113 46,31%
Retouched Pieces 97 39,75%
Total 244 
Retouched
Scrapers 2 
Perforators  
  
Notches 13 5,32%
 2
 39 15,98%
Projectile Points 1 
 1
Splintered Pieces 2 
 17 6,96%
Chips & Chunks 63 15,94%
Cores 13 3,29%
Debitage 144 36,45%
Retouched 175 44,3%
Total 395
Retouched
Scrapers 8 4,57%
Perforator 1 
 9 5,14%
 6 3,42%
Notched  11,42%
Truncations 4 6,28%
 32 18,28%
 6 3,42%
 2 1,14%
 2 1,14%
 86 49,14%
Table 1 
Table 2 
Richter et al., Shubayqa 1
Neo-Lithics 2/12 13
and ten perforators (Fig. 10: 12-17), together with

bladelets. On the basis of the overall technology and
the single el-Khiam point it can be tentatively sugge-
sted that this site may date to the PPNA. The presence
of many drills and greenstone fragments suggests that
greenstone bead production may have been important
at this site. The nearest greenstone source is located ca.
150 km southwest of the Qa Shubayqa to the west of

of the Qa Shubayqa we have labeled this site Shu-
bayqa 6. Further excavations at this site are necessary

Conclusion
-

a site with interesting research potential. Excavations
have shown that it is a multi-phased, complex Late
      -
tures that are more commonly associated with Natu-
   
architecture, heavy-duty ground stone tools, plant
exploitation and human burials. Shubayqa 1 today
sits at the edge of the Irano-Turanian vegetation zone
and the 100 mm annual average annual precipitation
   
       
zone ‘island’ poking out of sea of steppe and desert.
        
hypothesized how the climatic and environmental
change of the Younger Dryas affected the size and
distribution of these vegetation zones. Shubayqa 1
can shed further light on these issues and also help us
to better understand the impact of the Younger Dryas
climatic episode in relation to changing settlement pat-
terns, subsistence practices and cultural dynamics of
the terminal Pleistocene in southwest Asia.
The Younger Dryas has been seen by many scho-
lars as a key climatic event that forced Late Epipalaeo-
lithic societies to lower dense population numbers in
 
and marginal areas, and by taking up the cultivation
of cereals and other plants to compensate for the loss
of natural habitats (Bar-Yosef 1995; Bar-Yosef and
     


site (Shuabyqa 3) and a PPNA site (Shubayqa 6) af-
fords us an opportunity to examine the transition from
gathering and hunting to the early aceramic Neolithic
in the Harra in much better detail. We hope that further
surveys in the Qa Shubayqa area and excavations at all
of the sites discovered so far will shed some new light
on this crucial time frame.
Acknowledgements. We would like to thank the De-
partment of Antiquities of Jordan for permission to

are grateful to the assistance of our departmental re-
  
also like to acknowledge the kind help of the Royal
Bedouin Police Safawi, the Badia Research and De-
velopment Centre and the British Institute in Amman.
         
Ali Shkreitir and our local workmen from Safawi. This
-
dent Research (Culture and Communication) grant
#11-116136.
Tobias Richter
Department for Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies
University of Copenhagen
richter@hum.ku.dk (corresponding author)

Department of Archaeology
University of Nottingham
Michael House
Department for Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies
University of Copenhagen
Rune Iversen
SAXO Institute
University of Copenhagen
Amaia Arranz Otaegui
Universidad del País Vasco-Euskal Herriko
Unibertsitatea (UPV-EHU)
Departamento de Geografía, Prehistoria y Arqueología
Ingeborg Saehle
SAXO Institute
University of Copenhagen
Guenever Thaarup
Department for Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies
University of Copenhagen

SAXO Institute
University of Copenhagen

Department for Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies
University of Copenhagen
Field Reports
Neo-Lithics 2/12
14
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 
Legge (eds.), Village on the Euphrates. From Foraging
to Farming at Abu Hueryra: 43- 91. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.

in prep. Survey and Excavations in the Qa’ Shubayqa: Report
 
Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan.
New Publications
Neo-Lithics 2/12 51

Culture and History of the Ancient Near East, Volume 59. Brill, Leiden.
ISSN: 1566-2055; ISBN13: 9789004236097; hardback, Pages: xxvi, 410 pp.

           is a detailed report on one of the most
  past thirty years and an integrated analysis and interpretation of
subsistence strategies, settlement patterns and ritual life in one of the world’s earliest village communities. The
14,000-year-old settlement of Wadi Hammeh 27 is one of the most spectacular sites of its kind, featuring one of the
largest, most complex pre-Neolithic buildings yet 
caches and activity areas, and a rich corpus of late Ice Age art pieces.

Acknowledgments
List of Contributors
Chapter 1. ‘Springs, sweet and clear’: Wadi Hammeh 27 and its environs

Chapter 2. The Pella region: environment and resources in the terminal Pleistocene

Chapter 3. Stratigraphy, taphonomy and chronology

Chapter 4. Architecture and settlement plan

Chapter 5. Artefact distributions and activity areas
  
 

 
Zvonkica Stanin
Chapter 8. The basaltic artefacts and their origins

Chapter 9. Limestone artefacts

Chapter 10. Tools and ornaments of bone

Chapter 11. Artefacts and manuports of various materials
  
Chapter 12 Visual representations in stone and bone

Chapter 13. Animal bones and archaeozoological analysis
Yvonne H. Edwards and Louise Martin
Chapter 14. Plant remains and archaeobotanical analysis
  
Chapter 15. The human skeletal remains and their context

 

Chapter 17. Wadi Hammeh 27: Postscript and prospects

Neo-Lithics 2/12
Masthead
52
Editorial Board Advisory Board
Co-Editors
Gary O. Rollefson, Whitman College, Walla Walla
Hans Georg K. Gebel, Free University of Berlin

Dörte Rokitta-Krumnow, Free University of Berlin
Ofer Bar-Yosef, Harvard University
Didier Binder, C.N.R.S., Valbonne
Frank Hole, Yale University

Hans J. Nissen, Freie Universität Berlin

Danielle Stordeur, Archéorient, CNRS, Jalès
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... It is defined by Saharo-Arabian type steppe vegetation and currently receives less than 200 mm of mean annual rainfall (Zohary 1973). The Shubayqa sites are located in the Qa' Shubayqa (see Fig. 1), a twelve square-kilometre large mudflat basin (Richter et al. 2012;Richter 2014;Richter et al. 2016). ...
... Is located on a two to three meter mound, on the northern edge of the Qa' near the abandoned Islamic period village of Khirbet Shubayqa (Richter et al. 2012(Richter et al. , 2014. Alison Betts first discovered Shubayqa 1 during survey in 1993 (Richter et al. 2012). ...
... Is located on a two to three meter mound, on the northern edge of the Qa' near the abandoned Islamic period village of Khirbet Shubayqa (Richter et al. 2012(Richter et al. , 2014. Alison Betts first discovered Shubayqa 1 during survey in 1993 (Richter et al. 2012). Between 2012-2015 the site was excavated by a team from University of Copenhagen. ...
... During dehusking and milling, the groats, husk bits, powder, and flour were repeatedly hand-scooped from the mortar bottom without much effort and placed in this cupmark (Figs 8F, 8H). The one to six adjacent cupmarks appeared joined to stone-carved food tools in sites of diverse geographic regions, such as Nahal Oren's satellite sites in the Mediterranean zone , the Jordan Valley sites of Fazael VI and Gilgal VI (Eitam 2013), Shubayqa 1 in the Black Desert (Richter et al. 2012) and at the Harifian sites of the Negev Highlands (Abu Salem, Eitam 2013). From the fine flour mixed with some water, a small, thick flatbread, made of unleavened dough, was formed and baked in a setup akin to an oven (ovens were absent in the Late Epipaleolithic in the Levant). ...
... The researchers' reconstruction of the chaîne opératoire for the production of the bread is similar to the operational sequence of our experiment with the Natufian rock-cut tools at Huzuq Musa and identical in the resultant fine flour produced (Arranz Otaegui et al. 2018a: 4). Indeed, nine boulder NCMs were found at Shubayqa 1 (Richter et al. 2012). Two of them were placed in Structure 2 of the Late Natufian phase, which was built above Structure 1, where the bread remains were discovered. ...
... The Late Natufian phase of Shubayqa 1 features an extraordinary number of grinding implements and a dozen of NCMs (Richter et al. 2012;Pedersen et al. 2016). The handstones make 79% of the assemblage, compared to 15% of handstones in other Late Natufian sites (Wright 1991). ...
Article
Full-text available
The Natufian culture is generally accepted as having been a hunter-gatherer's society positioned on the "threshold of agriculture." This is based on the culture's sedentary nature and the numerous plant processing tools-sickle blades and ground stones-it had created and used, but preceding plant domestication by thousands of years. Here we describe the Natufian agro-technological system, including the first appearance of a threshing floor, hundreds of conical mortars for peeling and milling, and grinding implements that had enabled the production and supply of wild plant-food to the Natufian population in the southern Levant. The narrow conical mortar was a central component in this system. It was specially designed to dehull wild barley and mill cereal grains into fine flour for bread making, also attested by the starch of cereals and legume and striations in the mortars' walls. Additionally, few, exceptional pierced narrow conical mortars cut into large boulders deliberately placed in Natufian graves, reveal a very early symbolic "feeding of the dead." We propose that cereal food and bread were a central part of the culture's subsistence strategy and way of life, which positions the Natufian as a low-level food-producing society, between hunter-gatherers and early agriculturalists in the Levant.
... The researchers' reconstruction of the chaîne opératoire for the production of the bread is similar to the operational sequence of our experiment with the Natufian rock-cut tools at Huzuq Musa and identical in the resultant fine flour produced (Arranz-Otaegui et al. 2018a: 4). Indeed, nine boulder NCMs were found at Shubayqa 1 (Richter et al. 2012). Two of them were placed in Structure 2 of the Late Natufian phase, which was built above Structure 1, where the bread remains were discovered. ...
... The Late Natufian phase of Shubayqa 1 features an extraordinary number of grinding implements and a dozen of NCMs (Richter et al. 2012;Pedersen et al. 2016). ...
... . During dehusking and milling, the groats, husk bits, powder, and flour were repeatedly hand-scooped from the mortar bottom without much effort and placed in this cupmark (Figs 8F, 8H). The one to six adjacent cupmarks appeared joined to stone-carved food tools in sites of diverse geographic regions, such as Nahal Oren's satellite sites in the Mediterranean zone, the Jordan Valley sites of Fazael VI and Gilgal VI(Eitam 2013), Shubayqa 1 in the Black Desert(Richter et al. 2012) and at the Harifian sites of the Negev Highlands (Abu Salem,Eitam 2013). ...
Preprint
The Natufian culture is generally accepted as having been a hunter-gatherer’s society positioned on the “threshold of agriculture.” This is based on the culture’s sedentary nature and the numerous plant processing tools – sickle blades and ground stones – it had created and used, preceding plant domestication by thousands of years. Here we present the Natufian agro-technological system, including the first appearance of a threshing floor and hundreds of conical mortars - peeling and milling devices (stone tools cut in rock or ground stones are considering here as devices for producing food and other sustained goods), and grinding implements that had enabled the production and supply of wild plant-food to the Natufian population in the southern Levant. The narrow conical mortar was a central component in this system. It was specially designed to dehull wild barley and mill cereal grains into fine flour for bread making, also attested by the starch of cereals and legume and striations in the mortars’ walls. Additionally, few, exceptional pierced narrow conical mortars cut into large boulders deliberately placed in Natufian graves, reveal a very early symbolic “feeding of the dead.” We propose that cereal food and bread were a central part of the culture’s subsistence strategy and way of life, which indicates the Natufians were a low-level food-producing society linked between hunter-gatherers and early agriculture in the Levant.
... The researchers' reconstruction of the chaîne opératoire for the production of the bread is similar to the operational sequence of our experiment with the Natufian rock-cut devices at Huzuq Musa, and also identical in the resultant fine flour produced (Arranz-Otaegui et al. 2018a: 4). Indeed, nine boulder NCMs were found at Shubayqa 1 (Richter et al. 2012). Two of them were placed in Structure 2 of the Late Natufian phase, which was built above Structure 1, where the bread mentioned above remains were discovered. ...
... In the Late Natufian phases of Shubayqa 1 features an extraordinary number of grinding devices and a dozen of NCMs (Richter et al. 2012;Pedersen et al. 2016). ...
... During dehusking and milling, the contents (groats, husk bits, powder, and flour) were repeatedly hand-scooped from the mortar bottom without much effort and placed in this cupmark (Figs 8F, 8H). The adjacent cupmarks (one to six) appeared joined to stone-carved food devices in sites of diverse geographic regions, such as Nahal Oren's satellite sites in the Mediterranean zone, the Jordan Valley sites of Fazael VI and Gilgal VI(Eitam 2013), Shubayqa 1 in the Black Desert(Richter et al. 2012) and at the Harifian sites of the Negev Highlands (Abu-Salem, Eitam 2013). ...
Preprint
The Natufian culture is generally accepted as having been a hunter-gatherer's society positioned on the "threshold of agriculture." This is based on the culture's sedentary nature and the numerous plant processing tools-sickle blades and ground stones-it had created and used, preceding plant domestication by thousands of years. Here we present the Natufian agro-technological system, including the first appearance of a threshing floor and hundreds of conical mortars-peeling and milling devices (stone tools cut in rock or ground stones are considering here as devices for producing food and other sustained goods), and grinding implements that had enabled the production and supply of wild plant-food to the Natufian population in the southern Levant. The narrow conical mortar was a central component in this system. It was specially designed to dehull wild barley and mill cereal grains into fine flour for bread making, also attested by the starch of cereals and legume and striations in the mortars' walls. Additionally, few, exceptional pierced narrow conical mortars cut into large boulders deliberately placed in Natufian graves, reveal a very early symbolic "feeding of the dead." We propose that cereal food and bread were a central part of the culture's subsistence strategy and way of life, which indicates the Natufians were a low-level 2 food-producing society linked between hunter-gatherers and early agriculture in the Levant.
... The researchers' reconstruction of the chaîne opératoire for the production of the bread is similar to the operational sequence of our experiment with the Natufian rock-cut devices at Huzuq Musa, and also identical in the resultant fine flour produced (Arranz-Otaegui et al. 2018a: 4). Indeed, nine boulder NCMs were found at Shubayqa 1 (Richter et al. 2012). Two of them were placed in Structure 2 of the Late Natufian phase, which was built above Structure 1, where the bread mentioned above remains were discovered. ...
... In the Late Natufian phases of Shubayqa 1 features an extraordinary number of grinding devices and a dozen of NCMs (Richter et al. 2012;Pedersen et al. 2016). ...
... During dehusking and milling, the contents (groats, husk bits, powder, and flour) were repeatedly hand-scooped from the mortar bottom without much effort and placed in this cupmark (Figs 8F, 8H). The adjacent cupmarks (one to six) appeared joined to stone-carved food devices in sites of diverse geographic regions, such as Nahal Oren's satellite sites in the Mediterranean zone, the Jordan Valley sites of Fazael VI and Gilgal VI(Eitam 2013), Shubayqa 1 in the Black Desert(Richter et al. 2012) and at the Harifian sites of the Negev Highlands (Abu-Salem, Eitam 2013). ...
... Given Shubayqa 1's location in the harra, a basalt dessert (Betts 1998;Richter et al. 2012), it is not surprising that the vast majority of the assemblage was made from locally available basalt. Only nine implements or fragments were of non-basaltic rock types (including flint, limestone, sandstone and pumice). ...
Article
Full-text available
Shubayqa 1 is a newly identified early and late Natufian site in the harra desert of northeastern Jordan. In addition to buildings, and rich chipped stone, faunal, and botanical assemblages, the site has produced a large collection of ground stone tools. This paper presents the result of a preliminary study of the ground stone artefacts associated with the late Natufian phase. Results indicate that while the assemblage is overall very similar to other Natufian sites in the Mediterranean zone, there are also some notable differences. Although grinding rather than pounding tools appear to be more important at the site, many tools were seemingly involved in both grinding and pounding activities. We hypothesize that this dual function could be explained by the processing of rhizome tubers, which were found in abundance at the site, and which may have represented an important food source for the inhabitants. In addition, we argue that the relationship between ground stone tools and cereal processing has been overemphasized and the processing of other plant food resources, in this case tubers could have been equally significant. While the processing of plant foods was one function, many tools are also associated with pigment stains, suggesting that they were involved in the processing of non-vegetal matter.
... However, the simultaneous abundant use of local chert indicates that it cannot have been worthless either. On the other hand, while it is true that the dense basalt landscape could account for a lack of regional contact between its inhabitants, and therefore a lack of trade, the presence of clearly imported high-quality flint at sites deep within the harrah negates this, as does circumstantial evidence from other sites in the region, such as Shubayqa 1, where long-distance trade is documented from the Late Epipalaeolithic onwards (Richter et al. 2012). ...
Chapter
Full-text available
The climatically varied Syro-Levantine steppes feature complex dynamics of past human occupation that vary greatly across the region in terms of scale, time periods, and archaeological remains. In particular, the Late Chalcolithic (LC) and Early Bronze Age (EBA) (c. 4400‑2100 BC) saw urbanism in north-eastern Syria, smaller-scale sedentism in central Syria, and the decline of longstanding occupation in north-eastern Jordan. Despite this, the challenges faced by prehistoric populations in these uncertain environments would have been very similar; thus it is reasonable to propose that some of their solutions were also. The region-wide project 'Human Adaptation in Climatically Marginal Environments of late-fifth to third millennium BC Syria and Jordan' takes a holistic approach to investigating these arid and semi-arid regions to determine their appeal to past populations, and the effects of the natural and anthropogenic environment on settlement morphologies and societies. It uses a variety of past and present remote sensing and ground truth data, a vital part of which is the author's 'Western Harra Survey', south of Jawa in the northern badia of Jordan. The first fieldwork season, conducted October-November 2015, identified large quantities of lithic material at numerous sites, a handful of which were likely occupied during the LC/EBA, as well as potential links to raw chert material sources, adding another facet to the appeal of the harrah to past populations, on top of the well-established arguments for the exploitation of pasture land resources. Additionally, a typological seriation of the morphology of sites known as 'wheels' was commenced, which appears to be linked to different site uses and/or periods of occupation. Establishing these connections is crucial to allow mapping occupation dynamics across the greater region and comparisons with areas in Syria and beyond.
... Shubayqa 1, a hunter-gatherer site located in the Harra basalt field c. 22 km north of the town of Safawi in northeast Jordan, has yielded archaeological materials from a sequence of deposits spanning the Early to Late/Final Natufian, between 14,400 and 11,400 cal BP (Richter et al., 2012;Richter, Arranz Otaegui, House, Rafaiah, & Yeomans, 2014;Richter, Arranz-Otaegui, Yeomans, & Boaretto, 2017). The site was identified in 1993 and briefly tested in 1996 (Betts, 1993(Betts, , 1998. ...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives: To study pre- and early postnatal tooth formation and to analyze the effects of physiological disturbances on enamel and dentin formation in deciduous teeth of infants from the Late Epipaleolithic (Natufian) site Shubayqa 1. Materials and methods: Ten deciduous teeth from six infants (ages at death between 21 and 239 days) were analyzed by light and scanning electron microscopy. Results: Marked prism cross-striations and an abnormal wavy course of the prisms were recorded in pre- and postnatal enamel of all analyzed teeth. Single or multiple accentuated incremental lines were observed in prenatal enamel of nine teeth and in postnatal enamel of eight teeth. Accentuated Andresen lines and broader zones exhibiting an enhanced calcospheritic pattern were recorded in the pre- and postnatally formed dentin of nine teeth. Discussion: The structural abnormalities in the pre- and postnatally formed enamel of the infants are considered indicative of chronic stress that negatively affected the activity of secretory ameloblasts. The structural aberrations in pre- and postnatal dentin denote that odontoblasts were also affected by this stress. The presence of single or multiple accentuated incremental lines in pre- and postnatal enamel is interpreted as reflecting (short-term) impacts of higher intensity superimposed on the chronic stress. Our findings suggest compromised maternal health affecting the late fetus and compromised health in newborns. Although limited by the small number of analyzed individuals, the present study contributes to the knowledge of maternal and early infant health conditions in Late Epipaleolithic populations. KEYWORDS accentuated incremental lines, dental development, infant skeletons, maternal stress, Natufian, neonatal line
Article
The appearance of rich and diverse funerary practices is one of the hallmarks of the Late Epipalaeolithic Natufian in the Levant. Numerous burials at a number of sites excavated mostly in the Mediterranean zone of the southern Levant have fed into the interpretation of the Natufian as a sedentary society of complex hunter-gatherers. Here, we report on the human remains recovered from Shubayqa 1, a well-dated early to late Natufian site in northeast Jordan. The majority of the minimum of 23 individuals that are represented are perinates and infants, which represents an atypical population profile. Ground stone artifacts and traces of colorants are associated with some of these individuals, providing a rare insight into funerary treatment of subadults in Natufian contexts. We interpret the Shubayqa 1 evidence in the light of current and ongoing debates concerning Natufian burial practices and the issue of social complexity.
Article
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This article reassesses the timing, context, and impetus for the onset of sedentary, complex hunter-gatherers, food production, and village life in the Near East during the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene. Drawing on recent paleoclimatic and archaeological results, I argue that sedentism and then village life were rapid rather than gradual events that occurred during optimal climatic conditions and took place in resource-rich settings. These two social milestones included fundamental changes in economic strategies, social interaction, and ideology. Only by understanding the interplay between preexisting social institutions and human agency within communities prior to and during these periods of major social change will we be able to understand how and why food production began.
Article
Full-text available
The author studied intensification of plant use (including cereal consumption) during the Natufian period of the Levant, using microscopic analysis of use-wear on 166 basalt grinding stones from Natufian sites. These prehistoric grinding surfaces were compared to those created on an experimental collection of basalt stones used for known tasks. The Natufian tools were judged to have been used for a variety of purposes, including hide working, legume processing, cereal processing, and mineral grinding. There seemed, however, to be a clear increase over time in the use of grinding slabs with flat surfaces, suitable for reducing cereals and legumes to tinier particles, with a concomitant increase in the release of nutrients. This trend may help explain the appearance of agriculture at the end of the Natufian.
Article
Full-text available
Hitherto, the earliest archaeological finds of domestic cereals in southwestern Asia have involved wheats and barleys dating from the beginning of the Holocene, 11-12000 calendar years ago. New evidence from the site of Abu Hureyra suggests that systematic cultivation of cereals in fact started well before the end of the Pleistocene-by at least 13000 years ago, and that rye was among the first crops. The evidence also indicates that hunter-gatherers at Abu Hureyra first started cultivating crops in response to a steep decline in wild plants that had served as staple foods for at least the preceding four centuries. The decline in these wild staples is attributable to a sudden, dry, cold, climatic reversal equivalent to the 'Younger Dryas' period. At Abu Hureyra, therefore, it appears that the primary trigger for the occupants to start cultivating caloric staples was climate change. It is these beginnings of cultivation in the late Pleistocene that gave rise to the integrated grain-livestock Neolithic farming systems of the early Holocene.
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